TMJ Disorders: What They Are and Your Treatment Options
You've probably heard people refer to the term “TMJ” or that they have an issue with their “TMJ.” Have you ever wondered what the TMJ was and what issue a person might be having with it?
If so, you're not alone. Dr. Andrew Mortensen has fielded many questions like this at his practice serving Orange County. He feels that patient education is a crucial part of advanced general dentistry to enhance the look and wellness of smiles. With that in mind, let's get to the bottom of the TMJ issue and discuss some treatments for it.
What is a TMJ disorder?
A TMJ disorder refers to an issue with the proper alignment and function of the jaw joint, which is also known as the temporomandibular joint. It is one of the most complicated joints in the human body given how many different motions must be made by the jaw in order for people to speak, eat, make facial expressions, and so forth.
The most common signs of a TMJ disorder include locking of the jaw, clicking or popping sounds when people open their mouths wide, jaw pain, and a strange grinding sensation in the joint.
Common Causes of TMJ Disorders
Some of the most common causes of TMJ disorders include teeth grinding (bruxism), blows or trauma to the jaw and face, arthritis of the joints, and stress/tension on the jaw joint caused by improper dental alignment.
The best treatment for a TMJ disorder will depend on the nature of the condition and its root cause.
Wearing Night Guards/Bite Guards
One of the standard treatments for TMJ disorders is the use of a night guard/bite guard. This is a plastic mouthpiece that a patient wear while he or she is asleep. The mouthpiece keeps the upper and lower teeth from making contact, which reduces stress on the jaw if a patient grinds their teeth at night.
Stress Management Techniques
If teeth grinding is the result of stress and anxiety, there are many different options for stress management that may help a patient experience less intense or less frequent bouts of teeth grinding. This included meditation, controlled breathing, regular exercise, and so forth.
Advanced Non-Surgical Options for TMJ Disorders
If a patient does not respond to the above non-invasive treatments, there are minimally invasive measures to consider. One example is orthodontic treatment, which adjusts the alignment of the teeth and improves the rest position of the jaw joint in the process.
Sometimes the injection of an anti-inflammatory medication into the jaw joint helps alleviate the issue. This is common when arthritis is the primary cause of the TMJ disorder.
Surgical Treatments for TMJ Disorders
Surgery is a last resort if patients do not respond to non-surgical and minimally invasive therapies for their TMJ disorder. Still, dentists and oral surgeons will work conservatively with surgery, trying to use less invasive techniques to minimize scarring and ensure shorter healing times whenever possible.
Speak with Dr. Andrew Mortensen About TMJ Treatment
For more information about TMJ disorders and how our dental care team can help you have the healthiest and most beautiful smile possible, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Andrew Mortensen and the entire team at the practice will work with you and help you enhance your smile.